Boston Romney Donors Wary of Supporting Christie

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Thursday, 27 Feb 2014 12:31 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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Boston Republicans, who were major donors for Mitt Romney's presidential campaign in 2012, say they're nervous about New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's chances of winning the 2016 presidential nomination as Romney prepares to join Christie at a fundraiser in the city.

Romney and Christie are planning to attend a Republican Governor's Association in Boston Thursday, and insist their visit is about the 2014 midterm elections, not the 2016 presidential race, The Washington Post reported.

But Romney donors in Boston said they also see the fundraiser as a way for Christie to connect with Romney's donor network, and they are hard-pressed to back Christie in a national race, according to the Post.

Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, will join Christie and Massachusetts gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker at the home of New Balance co-founder Jim Davis, a major donor for Romney's campaign.

The event is seen as another sign of Romney's continuing close association with Christie, despite the George Washington Bridge closure scandal that continues to haunt the New Jersey governor.

But bridge-gate and other issues are bothering Boston Republicans, who think Christie is too flawed to be a presidential candidate.

"If Christie is the Republican candidate in 2016, it’s going to save me a lot of money, because I’m not going to go anywhere near that campaign," one Boston Republican, a longtime friend of Romney’s and a major donor to his presidential bid, told the Post.

Romney advisers are cautioning there are still several months before the GOP primary field starts to come together, let alone anyone lining up donors. Further, they said, no single candidate will inherit all of Romney's fundraising connections.

"There is no such thing as 'Romney people.'" former Romney adviser Ron Kaufman told the Post. "The Romneyworld is a diverse, and interesting group of people, [and] it’s not something you can hand off."

Romney has continued to defend his friend Christie through the scandal and the two men have a "warm and friendly relationship, both publicly and privately," said Bill Palatucci, who is one of Christie's closest advisers.

"I’ve been with them in very private moments – and they have always been friendly with each other, telling family stories and seeking advice from one another," Palatucci told the Post.

Further, former Romney staffers say he never held it against Christie for how he handled President Barack Obama's response on Superstorm Sandy in the weeks before the presidential election, or for his Republican convention speech that focused more on himself than on Romney.

Most Romney donors want to give their money to whomever has the best chance to win the 2016 race, and many don't believe Christie is that person.

"The vast majority of Romney donors are center-right, pro-business donors who want somebody electable and, right now there is a question of Christie’s electability based on these scandals,” a bundler said.

Another donor told the Post "Christie is dead to me" after his actions during Superstorm Sandy, while another one said he does not respect the New Jersey leader.

Related Stories:

Mitt Romney: Christie's A Leader, Not a Bully
Romney: Christie 'One of Strongest Lights' in GOP Field


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